Energy innovation ideas for SMEs

CSIRO has opened applications for its free self-paced ten week program, Innovate to Grow – Energy, for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to foster and refine innovative energy ideas into a research and development opportunity.

SMEs play a key role in growing Australia’s energy industry, but taking an research and development idea and turning this into reality can sometimes be a daunting prospect. CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow program will work on solutions in the energy sector to explore how research and development can advance their project or idea.

Key program goals include:

  • Identifying innovation opportunities
  • Refining value proposition
  • Understanding the research and development viability
  • Helping participants build their business case
  • Providing guidance on how to prepare a strong funding application

The ten week course begins on 4 May 2023, and includes an initial 4.5 hour workshop with guest speakers from CSIRO, sector experts and SMEs. The speakers will provide tips and information on topics such as trends and opportunities, innovation experience and funding. Here, participants will be able to meet their fellow program members as well as their mentor for the program’s duration.

Weeks 2-10 will be self-paced and allow participants to explore opportunities to grow their business through innovation and research. Fortnightly virtual webinars for participant networking and guest speakers will also be held, with total contact hours expected to be two to three hours per week. 

A final questionnaire will be held at the completion of the course. 

Key program outcomes

The InnovateGrow program is designed to allow CSIRO to support participants in refining their ideas, provide critical and confidential feedback alongside a CSIRO or university researcher to mentor participants and connect to industry or relevant specialists. The program will also allow participants to build contacts and connections in the relevant sector, including researchers at CSIRO and universities, domain experts, funding professionals and other SMEs.

Participants can be from any sub-sector in the energy industry including but not limited to: hydrogen, energy storage and batteries, energy data systems, low emission technology, energy resources. 

Innovate to Grow participants must follow a selection criteria.

Essential application criteria includes:

  • Business classified as small to medium (<200 employees)
  • A business currently, or in the early stages of, exploring research and development opportunities for their business and have an idea to work on throughout the course
  • Currently working in the energy sector (or have identified a new opportunity relevant to energy)
  • An Australian registered and operating business with an ABN and ACN/ICN

Other considerations:

  • Any other information provided to support the application
  • Have a clear need to develop their knowledge and skills in research and development

CSIRO Innovate to Grow is delivered using Practera’s online ed-tech platform and facilitation services.

Applications are open now, and close 10 April 2023, with the program starting 4 May 2023. For more information or to apply visit

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